OSWEGO — Tim Conners has a simple message that resonates with anyone: Whatever mountain you face, climb on.
Conners, a Fulton man who beat a cancer that blinded him before eventually climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, gave an impassioned and inspiring speech Wednesday to wrap up the final day of the Oswego Writing Institute at SUNY Oswego.
Recounting his harrowing tale of nearly dying from cancer, but defying doctor’s odds and living before climbing the tallest mountain in Africa while blind, Conners — an author and inspirational speaker — spoke from the heart to about a hundred people at SUNY Oswego’s Marano Campus Center.
“Cancer may have taken a lot from me, including my eyesight, but it did not take away my vision,” Conners told the crowd.
When Conners was 15 years old, he struggled to breathe one night and went to the doctor’s to check it out in the morning. In that single day, Conners found out he had a football-sized tumor in his chest and started chemo that same day.
The treatment eventually required a surgery to remove pressure from his head — which blinded Conners — and a bone marrow transplant. At one point, doctors gave Conners a grim prognosis, but he still fought on.
“Thankfully, the doctors were wrong,” said Conners.
Conners recovered, and graduated from G. Ray Bodley High School and summa cum laude from Ithaca College. After graduating, it was off to Africa in May 2017 at 22 years old for the big trek he’d planned.
It took several draining days of climbing and some rest days for energy recuperation. At one point Conners said he considered “giving it in” and one of his guides noting he didn’t know if they could continue.
“I was breaking down. My body was in such pain. Everything I had done was finally catching up to me,” said Conners.